Brand: Miller High Life
Link: Click Here – follow links through to ‘See My TV Moments’
Target: Older Men
This spot has a female voiceover of some of moments of the twentieth century and Miller High Life. It shows shots of men from the forties drinking High Life in bars, a High Life bottle towering over a drive in restaurant, families on picnic, Ray Charles, steel workers, football moments (the last three only in the :30) and others. Many of these shots have Miller High Life beer bottles, signs or logos in them. The voiceover mentions ‘the champagne of beers.’ Then it cuts to the Miller High Life logo and the voiceover says “I’m the Girl in the Moon” and quick cuts to a vintage Miller High Life neon sign as she continues, “and I want to tell you everything I know – everything there is to savor – everything.”
Miller made a very bold choice in 1997 when deciding how to revive the High Life brand which had been in steady decline for nearly 25 years. The unfashionable full beer flavor was the choice of an aging demographic of working men. And it was being eclipsed by light beers on one hand and imports on the other.
The natural choice would have been to reposition the brand towards a young demographic and in the best case scenario pull off a Burberry-style reinvigoration of the brand. Fortunately, Miller did not make this choice. Instead, Miller chose to refocus on the core brand attributes of heritage and authenticity and to focus commercials on the emotional and cultural connection of the consumer to the beer. And most importantly, Miller decided not to walk away from its core
drinkers, aging though they were.
Given the meteoric success of brands like Burberry that have been rescued by hip-hop artists and the aging of its core users, why shouldn’t Miller have been looking to brand younger? There is no question that to survive, High Life must attract younger drinkers.
The answer is that most brands which abandon their core users end up looking a lot more like Tommy Hilfiger than Burberry. They chase a trend, catch it if they are lucky and are then left on the shoals of the next shift in cool, having permanently abandoned their core brand values. The beer category is particularly viscious and undifferentiated at the youth end with companies outdoing themselves to create funny, sexy, meaningless ads that confound the best efforts to remember which brand has just given you the great bikini shot.
So it took courage for Miller to tread a different path and it has largely paid off, as High Life share has stabilized and begun to grow slightly. This spot marks an inflection point in that campaign, and a significant intensification of what is almost unique in advertising today – making older people aspirational. By showing the authenticity of the beer, Miller is essentially holding up their aging working men as the guardians of the beer. And our growing societal taste for authenticity – for things that are real and genuine and not just contrived to look that way – has made this strategy pay off for Miller.
Here are some things we like in this spot:
Engaging Visuals – To advertise successfully in the world of 10,000 distractions, your spot must first engage the viewer visually and then pull him into the narrative sequence of the commercial. With rapid cuts, brilliant and emotional cultural moments and some interesting effects that seem almost surrealist (creating visual depth and separation in a still shot, for instance), this spot grabs you tight and does not let go.
Emotional Connection - When you turn on the sound, this spot really begins to connect. Miller has chosen a young female voice but its one that is distinctive and appealing and keeps this very emotional spot from turning maudlin.
Product is the Hero - Miller High Life really is the hero of this spot because it is the faithful friend that sticks with us through the generations. This spot is ideally designed to reinforce this heritage.
Strong Branding – Many heritage spots fail because they don’t connect strongly back to the brand. By scouring the photo archives, Miller has found enough real shots featuring Miller or Miller signs to keep the brand in the spotlight for most of the commercial.
All in all, this is one of the best-executed authenticity spots we have seen in some time.
The narrator for this spot turns out to be the girl depicted sitting in the crescent moon in the Miller High Life logo. While this is a good rationale for the choice of a female for the voiceover it creates a head-scratching moment at the end of the spot when we should instead be savoring the smooth aftertaste of the great visuals and narration. Instead we feel if Ken Burns has just declared that he actually is Abraham Lincoln reborn and has been narrating the Civil War from his own experiences. It is an unnecessary affectation in this otherwise flawless spot.
Branding Bottom Line:
Miller somehow makes the old white beer-guzzling male seem cool.